Investing to scale up multi-sector off-grid solutions

6th Jul 2021

Nairobi, Kenya:  InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), and Rural Village Energy Solutions (RVE.SOL) today signed a joint Shareholders Agreement committing a total of $8 million to support the scale up of RVE.SOL’s innovative multi-sector KUDURA Power East Africa (KPEA) business in Kenya. InfraCo Africa will become a 40% shareholder of KPEA.

InfraCo Africa’s CEO, Gilles Vaes said, “InfraCo Africa is committed to scaling up mini-grids as a commercially viable infrastructure class and we are delighted to partner with RVE.SOL on the KUDURA Mini-grid project. RVE.SOL is one of the leading mini-grid operators in sub-Saharan Africa and we are confident in their capacity to consolidate the sector in Kenya and East Africa. The project will not only expand access to clean, reliable solar power in rural areas but will pilot delivery of street lighting, water pumping and purification and appliance financing to ensure that communities and businesses can truly maximise the health, security and economic benefits of clean and renewable power.”

To date, RVE.SOL has established 20 operational mini-grids in the country. With support from InfraCo Africa, the project will build an additional 22 mini-grids across Busia County, in northwest Kenya. Incorporating battery back-up, the mini-grids will range in size from 10 – 60kWp, totalling 512kWp. A modular design enables the company to respond to changing electricity demand over time.  The project will empower over 7,000 new rural electricity connections through a mix of densification of existing sites and addition of new mini-grids.

RVE.SOL’s CEO, Vivian Vendeirinho said, “As an early stage pioneer of the mini-grid business on the continent, we are committed to realising renewable mini-grids as the least-cost form of rural electrification resulting in transformational electrification rates. This partnership with InfraCo Africa, a leading infrastructure investor on the continent gives credence to mini-grids as an infrastructure investment, moving them into the mainstream for the accelerated achievement of SDG7.”

The project is supported by the Green Mini Grid facility Kenya (GMG Kenya), a programme implemented by Agence Française de Développement since 2016 and funded by UKAid and EU Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund. GMG Kenya provided investment support to KUDURA during the early years which resulted in 11 electrified villages and is now expanding the investment to another 22 villages. This follow on investment is based on the successes in the early phases of the project and will serve rural households, local communities and public lighting in Busia County and contribute significantly to their socio economic development. The project recently secured US$235,000 of grant funding from PIDG Technical Assistance to support a variety of capacity building initiatives and technical studies.

It is anticipated that the mini-grids will be installed by Q1 2022 with full commissioning expected by Q3 2022. By scaling KPEA’s innovative multi-sector approach to off-grid power, KUDURA mini-grid seeks to attract further private sector investment, demonstrating the added value of adopting a combined approach to the delivery of power, water, street lighting and appliance finance as a catalyst for sustainable rural development.

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